LETTERS: Elected positions provide a choice

— The Onondaga County Association of Highway Superintendents would like to make some clarifications and respond to recent articles that have been published in the various media. In particular, it pertains to the towns of Van Buren and Lysander, and whether the highway superintendent should be elected or appointed. Our intent is to respond with facts to individual statements that could mislead the public and prevent them from making an informed decision. It is our view that making this position an appointed position takes away the power of individual residents, voters and taxpayers to determine who is best qualified to represent them.

In an Eagle Bulletin news article dated July 25, 2012, the Town of Van Buren Supervisor states, “an appointed superintendent offers more accountability, cooperation, oversight and transparency.”

We believe that the elected highway superintendent offers more accountability. He or she by law must be a resident of the town; an appointed official would not have to be. This offers the resident more accountability as he or she lives among you, pays local taxes, patronizes local businesses and their children attend local schools. This truly gives your highway superintendent a personal stake along with fiscal responsibility in the decisions he or she makes every day. Being an active member of our communities also makes your safety on our roads the utmost importance.

If the highway superintendent were to be appointed, he would be accountable to the town board only, which effectively removes accountability to the town residents, voters and taxpayers. Voting is at the heart of how citizens hold their public officials accountable.

Openness and honesty define government transparency – this would be no different whether appointed or elected. All town records are on file at the town clerk’s office and are available to any member of the public at any time. All town records are subject to audits by the New York State Comptroller’s Office and state law provides various checks and balances that require a highway superintendent to work closely with his town board.

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